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Everything posted by TheNiche

  1. For once, Plastic, I agree with you. You've been desperately in need of 'remodeling' for a very long time.
  2. Houston is anything you make of it. For instance, if I have a visitor that stays four days and three nights, then every meal will be of a different ethnicity. AUTHENTIC Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Lebanese, Pakistani, Indian, and Greek. I could keep on that pattern for a week and not run out of options. Notice that I hadn't even gotten down to the regional cuisines, like BBQ, Tex-Mex, or seafood straight from Galveston Bay. Hell, for the connosuier of such things, I could easily treat a guest to a week of nothing but BBQ from all the great places we have in town. Let them know why we're so frequently chosen as the fattest of cities. Canoe the Buffalo Bayou from Memorial Park or even further upstream down to the new landing at York. There's absolutely nothing like coming up to Downtown from that vantage point. If the person is one of the artsy types, then do the Menil Collection. Drive them out SH 225. Show them what this town was built with...and if you want revolutionary history (like with Philly), then do the Sam Houston monument. Its taller than the Washington Monument-because of course, everything here is. If all else fails, try out Galveston. If you're so concerned about the loss of Astroworld, they're about to get a new Schlitterbahn...and then of course, there's the Strand. If you educate yourself on the history of Galveston, and I'd recommend the book Isaac's Storm for that purpose, it makes for good storytelling. Ok, so I imagine that you're thinking that these things aren't impressive enough for your guest? You want something more uppity and glamourous. Well that's too bad. Houston is what it is...a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here.
  3. Red, I was on a tangent about the West End. Did I so thoroughly annoy you on the global warming post that you're just looking for trouble now?
  4. Highrises are a niche product in Houston. Its almost impossible to justify the price for what you get, and the market for new units is mostly comprised of people who very deliberately are looking for the highrise lifestyle. Once you whittle the market down by income, lifestyle preference vs. price tradeoff curve, and the general lack of kids, there's just not much left. And then you have to account for the fact that some of the people that would otherwise fall into the highrise buyer category work in far-flung suburban areas, where highrises just aren't available and the demand hasn't reached a critical mass to justify even one.
  5. Wow, he must've severely underpriced the penthouses if they've all presold already. Its really amazing how much is going on down there. It sure is a shame that all that West End stuff is going to be wiped out one day. Perhaps that'll be what it takes to get the seawall extended.
  6. Actually I agree. Good access is in fact good enough...but excellent access is still better. And I really don't mind debating hypotheticals. I find it enjoyable to come up with an idea that would be implementable (even if it is a challenge), and to discuss it at length. Ideally, I'd like to see more of that kind of thing on this forum. That said, Plastic's freeway idea (among his other ideas) would not have been enjoyable almost at all because it is completely unrealistic and poorly thought out. I completely agree that we'll just have to agree to disagree on this. The topic has been done to death.
  7. But I never said anything about linking the neighborhood to downtown--there's nothing to say about that. It already is. I talked about linking it to other activity/employment centers for which access is presently good but not excellent. And as I already pointed out, the exurban-freeway topic is a weak analogy. I wish that you'd read my earliest posts. Then you might spot that I proposed that the whole project include the roadbeds being sunk so that the transportation project doubles as a flood-control project. Another benefit that I didn't harp on, but figured was intuitive, was that road noise would be substantially reduced. The whole idea isn't that different from the proposal put out by the Katy Corridor Coalition a while back, except that it has many more benefits and is more scenic. There doesn't have to be almost any Right-of-Way expansion at all, except possibly a very few homes at the corners, where mostly-grade-level ramps would have to be placed.
  8. I could have sworn that you'd have made the connection, given that you stated the explanation behind higher prices in recent years...but for god's sake man... To quote yourself, "Today, because so many of our generating plants run on natural gas, we have the highest electricity in the country." That is a factual statement. If we had more nuclear/coal plants, our prices would be lower. But our power plants were all built during the period of high regulation. Under regulation, a company would almost never be allowed to operate at a loss. If the prices of producing electricity go up, then the regulators would change the prices to reflect the increase in production cost, allowing all utilities to operate at a guaranteed (if marginal) profit in a regulated monopolistic business environment. Now, the cost of production has gone up and it has been passed on to the consumers. I can't say whether they're taking more or less profit for themselves (or whether that may or may not be a good/bad thing in the long term), but I can assure you that the prices would have gone up one way or the other.
  9. Several things: The HOA fees need to be built into the condo sale price and the cost of privately arranging for anything that the HOA provides (i.e. lawnmowing or cable TV) has to be added in to the home's sale price to get an idea of true comparability. Also, the condo appears to be in a very old complex that may have issues relating to age. If you look closely at the photos, you can really see the differences. You also have to remember that having a private yard can be very expensive and that the buildout quality is probably much higher within the new home than in the older condo. Houston is just this way, especially in the inner city, where high-dollar townhomes are often situated next to tear-down cottages. I live in a 1BR condo built in 1981 that I got for $42k. Up the street a ways are new condos that will likely start at $160k to $180k for a similar floor plan, but between me and the new condos is a Section 8 apartment project. There's always little something for every category of buyer/renter, and its located everywhere.
  10. Yes, there are a lot of business leaders inside the Loop; there are a heck of a lot more that are outside the loop, however. River Oaks is only the tip of an ice berg of 'Upper Crust' households that extends westward toward the Energy Corridor. If you're familiar with PRIZM NE psychographic data, you'll probably understand the implications. There are also lots of these kinds of households scattered throughout the exurbs. Lots in the Champions area, Woodlands, Sugar Land, and elsewhere. The more of these business leaders and the professional labor force that can reach downtown efficiently, the more likely they are to put their businesses there...which is GOOD for promoters of an urban environment. If you make it too difficult, these key decision makers will just opt to lease space in one of Houston's many edge cities, spuring more office and housing construction around them rather than nearer to downtown. Case in point: Citgo. They moved into the Energy Corridor. You might assume that some fraction of their employees are going to live in the Inner Loop because of cultural preferences, enduring a long reverse-commute as a result. But if they'd moved into downtown, then you could almost certainly expect that this die-hard fraction of urbanists would be joined by many more people that would prefer a short commute. That said, there's also going to be a die-hard fraction of suburbanites, likely including a few key decision-makers--these people must be satiated. My bottom line: the best way to get what you want is to provide people with choices, be it for housing options, transportation options, or other public infrastructure options. When almost everybody is happy, almost everybody wins...at least in the long term. You've got to live and let live. The only people that won't be happy with options seem to be the ones that want everyone to think and live the way that they want to live.
  11. While it is true that we cannot just pave our way out of our problems, and the appropriate solution entails the right mix of transportation options, that doesn't necessarily mean that we should stop paving everything. And while it is true that access to the TMC and UH is already good, that doesn't mean that it couldn't be made better. By the way, the reasoning that "property values along Brays Bayou closer to 59 are lower probably has more to do with the presence of low-rent apartment complexes in the area" is a perfect example of circular reasoning. In essence, you seem to argue that property values (a function of rental rates) are low because rental rates (which are a function of property values) are also low. There was a time that rental rates/property values were relatively low in the Montrose/6th Ward/4th Ward/Rice Military areas, but that changed with time, and its hard to deny that having easy access via a scenic road and linear park system helped these areas when their time came. I also think that your comparison of these areas to suburban communities is a weak analogy, but if you want to discuss that, then I'd refer you to the NASA Bypass, a freeway being built by TXDoT that will allow for greater connectivity into the Clear Lake City area. The road project has already provided the impetus for TWO condominium high rise projects that appear to be doing very well. I think that's an excellent example of how people can and do vote with their feet on this very issue.
  12. I'm sorry, did I reply to you, resident of Westbury? No, I did not. In fact, I can't hope to comprehend why you're against my parkway concept. It'd help out your land values a lot to have another limited-access route to the TMC and UH, especially if it were also a linear park and flood control project, all rolled into one. By the way, I'm in no way endorsing Plastic's concept. I just like the way that Memorial Drive/Allen Parkway works and would like to see it replicated. That's all.
  13. Yes and no. You'll find that construction of housing for low-income tenants rarely happens except when there is a subsidy (i.e. LIHTC or Section 8). To the extent that such complexes are built, they will be built throughout the region. Otherwise, what is more likely is that existing homes and apartment buildings will transform into slummy neighborhoods with age. Thus, the designers of Houston's 21st century ghetto were in fact 20th century architects and developers. NIMBYs don't typically matter in Houston. And if you think you know of an exception, it was probably the project's economics that killed it, not public outcry. The one that was proposed on Shakespeare Street comes to mind as an example.
  14. You should appreciate the suburban-urban freeway connections that we have. That's what allows people to move to the suburbs rather than being pressured to move into the city. By maintaining a relatively low demand for inner-city housing, prices stay low enough for you to afford. By the way, why is it bad that some neighborhood would be able to sell their homes at a premium? Aren't higher prices an indication that a significant civic improvement has been made that people place great value upon? Also, if you want an urban environment, then you should realize that there is a very strong connection between demand for inner-city apartments and occupancy in downtown's office buildings...but the top managers of corporations that lease space in those buildings are most likely to live in the suburbs and won't decide to locate the company downtown if the commute is too difficult for them and the suburban portion of their labor force. So you want to make it easy for people to commute. Then, urban environments are created because there are jobs to support the fraction of downtown employees that value commute/urbanity/culture/etc. over schools/yards/etc. P.S. The southwest side around Braeswood is pretty dense...at least as dense as a large chunk of the Inner Loop. Does that mean it might one day become [gasp] urban?
  15. A circumstantial ad hominem is indeed a fallacy. Red's statement implied simply that the data could not be trusted because the people propogating it have something to gain. If an oil refining corporation makes the claim that its plants are the cleanest in the world, are they factually incorrect because they stand to gain from such a statement? No, of course not. They may very well be telling the truth...that's not ruling out the possibility of dishonesty, but one cannot just assume that the existence of potential alterior motives mean that the source is being dishonest. Red may have a philosophy on the matter, but I don't see that as relevent to my point. His comments may be factual, the only thing about which I can be certain is that the facts are ambiguous. I will not make poorly-informed assumptions (unless forced, and then my doubts will be explicitly stated). Err on the side of caution...at what price? If the price is a single dollar paid today for the assurance of no impacts thirty years from now, then that is certainly an acceptable deal. If it is one trillion up front for the assurance of no effects from human impacts thirty years from now, I'm far less likely to take that deal. Again, it has to do with the notion that even IF change occurs as a result of human activity, we still cannot establish with any degree of certainty that the change will lead to a decline in economic output, much less some sort of doomsday scenario. Even the, if bad change happens, its so far off that I just care less. There are more important things to deal with at present. As for your comments about spending on war...that is an unrelated issue and is not relevent to this discussion. If the war spending is unjustified in your view, then why create some system by which spending is dictated by relative priority? Why base a model on inherently flawed data? And about that bit: "When we have leaders of all political stripes who are all talk and no walk on alternatives like hydrogen and hybrid technologies, don't expect not to hear some philiosophical statements you may not want to listen to." If I may paraphrase, you seem to think that as long as politicians aren't serious about tackling issues that you feel are important, I should expect to hear arguments that I would rather not hear. Now where the heck did you get that from? I want to hear arguments if they're good well-thought-out arguments...and I could care less which political affiliation they come from if they make sense. If they don't, I'll shoot them down. If they do, I'll applaud and support them. That's that.
  16. Do you lack any political sense at all? To get backing, you have to use words like "Parkway" and propose that the roads be partially sunk, with lots of trees, many large sculptures, and the removal of concrete around the water. Then you have to add in canoe/kayak landings and bike trails, all interspersed with soccer fields in more 'ethnic' areas. You have to make it more of a parks and recreation project than a transportation project. Its not that it couldn't be tastefully done with widespread backing, but you've got to learn to communicate more effectively. P.S. As for the rest of you, suburbanites are people too. They deserve a rapid commute as much as urbanites deserve decent public schools.
  17. I'm disappointed because you resorted to the use of informal fallacies to support your argument. These are the last refuge of lawyers and scoundrels. It is disappointing because you're usually able to at least stick to the issue in your posts. To substantiate my assertion that you have used a circumstantial ad hominem, I point to your statement that: "When the Republican led Congress holds a hearing to rebut Global Warming, and calls as it's lead witness a SCIENCE FICTION writer, I believe that pretty much speaks for itself." On a side note, stating "virtually the entire scientific community has reached a consensus on the matter" is an example of an invincible authority fallacy, and "the poster is being intellectually dishonest" is just a regular run-of-the-mill ad hominem. Someone's profession, reputation, or political affiliation is not reason, in and of itself, to dismiss their arguments. If you wish to counter what it is that they claim, it is far more useful to provide a premise and a conclusion that are relevent to the argument at hand. Otherwise, you're just going to become cannon fodder for Republicans that would call you "sheep" or some such thing. The best way to win a political argument, which you seem to be engaged in (even though you claim not to want to be), is by making a clear and concise argument relating to the issues. Divest yourself of affiliation and you may actually influence someone's opinions...otherwise, you're more likely to be labeled and not taken seriously. By the way, I'm not saying that Highway 6, your opponent, is doing any better (given that "poo poo" comment), but I've read many more of your posts and expected more from you. I'm aware of that, but can't help except say what I think. My target has never been the masses, but rather well-educated intellectuals capable of discerning between rhetoric and true analytical thought. And I wouldn't call it a hyperbole...just an observation. If you would like to debate the validity of my observation, I'd welcome such feedback. As to global warming, I would agree that there is some debate as to how much effect human activity has on the phenomenon. But, there is little rational debate that human activity does have some effect. I don't think that anybody has ruled out the distinct likelihood that human activity has an effect on climate. The core of the issue, when you really get down to it is a matter of policy. Are we certain enough about our impacts to justify a BIG up-front economic cost by complying with Kyoto or some other set of emissions regulations? It could very easily be for nought...and even if we did let global warming occur, the other big question is whether it is actually a threat. To the extent that people are fundamentally opposed to change without knowing whether it will be for better or worse, that is an example of classical conservatism. To the extent that there is a 'natural state' that is in some way perceived as being 'corrupted' by human activity, that is Romanticism, similar to that promoted by Rousseau. Many of Hitler's ideals are well-documented as being derived from such strains of philosophical thought, and it struck me as a fascinating comparison. I hope that my clarifications have been sufficient to ensure a more thorough understanding of my key arguments. If there are any more criticisms, I'll be glad to field them.
  18. No, BUT...I would readily favor a continuous limited-access parkway similar to Memorial Dr. that runs all the way through the TMC and that terminates near UH.
  19. No, I will drive at the velocity that circumstances dictate is prudent. I'm relatively young, do not even own a cell phone, have no record of moving violations, but pay high enough insurance rates as it is--I have a big incentive to drive safely and be alert for cops and just about everything else. For that reason, I will speed. It is my judgement that I'm in a better situation than many other people with whom I am sharing the road. I'd rather that many of them not speed (i.e. the elderly or cell-phone-addicts). Therefore, what is prudent for me may not be prudent for someone else. I also happen to own a car with "Traction Control". There, I looked up the designated name for it. Are you happy? I know how it works because there is a button on my dash that turns it on and off. I've tested it under normal circumstances before and noticed the difference on cornering. I've also had it kick in where one wheel started to hydroplane, as well as on dirt roads where the gravel is too large in spots and prevents me from getting good traction. Yes, and I'd consider my reaction time (to any peril) to be above average, insofar as there are elderly folks and cell-phone-addicts on our roads. For that reason, and because my vehicle can match my response without losing traction, I can drive at an above average velocity and theoretically maintain the same risk profile. I'm not saying that driving at higher speeds isn't risky. My point has always been that at least in my case, the marginal increase in risk fails to outweigh the marginal benefit of time saved. That conclusion does not apply to all people and I do not recognize
  20. Yeah, it is confusing that I'd do that. In fact, in a lot of peoples' eyes, that statement alone will discredit everything else that I'd said up to that point...but I've got this thing about me. An idea pops into my head and it must be spoken. So **** me, I'm honest. P.S. I went just went back and scanned through one of those Crighton articles--the one about "Environmentalism as a Religion". I'm amazed. He used variants of precisely the same verbage that I did and basically elaborated on the very points that I tried to make. I didn't see the use of the name "Hitler", though, so he clearly has better self-control...but then anyone familiar with Rousseau knows about the connection. I also read through some of the earlier posts...RedScare, you disappoint me. I'd have expected that circumstantial ad hominems would be beneath you.
  21. Again, you as an INDIVIDUAL capable of making your very own decisions can judge what speed is safe for you. And it is certainly in your best interests to ensure the safety of your fellow driver because failing to do so will almost certainly have consequences for YOU. I drive a year-old Mazda 6 with 17' wheels, aftermarket sport tires, anti-lock brakes, and some gizmo that ensures continued stability if one tire loses grip on the road surface. Therefore, assuming similar road conditions, I need not worry about losing control in the same way that someone driving a beat up decade-old Kia Rio might. Yes, I recognize that my viewpoint is probably asinine to many people...but so are many other of my opinions, and that's never stopped me from posting before.
  22. I will accept that Global Warming may exist -- however: tracing the sources of greenhouse gasses is not realistically possible for at least one reason: underwater volcanoes can release massive plumes of CO2 that bubble up to the surface in unpredictable non-cyclical episodes. Given that scientists have 1) mapped only a very small portion of the sea floor, 2) even if they have mapped it, cannot continuously monitor it, and 3) would agree that at least in theory, disproportionately high rates of tectonic activity under the sea floor create more significantly greater sources of volcanic emissions than those that are observable on land, it seems to me that the impact of human activity is at the very least questionable. As far as I am concerned, the concept of human-induced climate change on a global scale is questionable enough to not really worry about it very much...sure as hell not worth investing several trillion dollars for the globe to meet CO2 reduction guidelines. There's also no rule that says "change is bad." If things warm up, we take a few extra feet of water over the course of many decades, we lose a few key buildings but scrap many others, and ADAPT. That's what humans have done for tens of thousands of years. In fact, it is not warmth that causes problems if you're inland, it's more about patterns of precipitation. A warmer wet environment would create more rainforest-like biomes, where a warmer dry environment would create more desert-like biomes. I have nothing against either, and if the temperate zones may move a little further north, so what? We'll just farm Siberia. Environmentalists that really harp on this stuff strike me more as neo-romanitcists...classical conservatives, really. You gotta be careful about these types. I hate to make this kind of a reference, but Hitler was the exact same thing with an ethnic focus rather than environmental.
  23. If something did happen, I'd hope that you'd at least have the common courtesy to chop up her body into tiny bits and dump it somewhere near the Port...think of it as an 'homage' to her exceptional hoe-ness in regards to the care and treatment of seamen. Then you could move, and I'd hope you'd have the sense to go to Mexico. Wait a sec...'seamen' is spelled with an 'a', right?
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